Yalata Kidney Health Festival organiser has her sights set on rural health

YALATA KIDNEY FESTIVAL: Matthew Nesbitt, Ignatius Rudd, Gaby Coard, Kate Sharley, Emma Kelly, Rachael Murray, Sophie Whitehead and Joe Mann were at Yalata last week.

YALATA KIDNEY FESTIVAL: Matthew Nesbitt, Ignatius Rudd, Gaby Coard, Kate Sharley, Emma Kelly, Rachael Murray, Sophie Whitehead and Joe Mann were at Yalata last week.

Emma Kelly recently visited Yalata for the second annual Kidney Health Festival, an idea which came to fruition last year.

The festival was the brainchild of the Wudinna native, a fifth year student at the University of Adelaide who hopes to pursue a career in rural medicine.

She is spending the year in Port Lincoln focusing on rural health training as part of her studies.

Ms Kelly’s return to Yalata was another step in her journey which has already seen the festival expand, and to have her efforts recognised earlier this year at the Channel 9 Young Achievers Award.

She said the festival started with a conversation with Dr Jill Bedson, who organises health services in Yalata.

“I wanted to pursue Indigenous and regional health and she said at Yalata they only have fly-in fly-out doctors, but that the community could benefit from an education program,” she said.

“As president of the Adelaide University Rural Health Alliance I went to the committee and became the leader of this project.

“I am very proud of the work we have done and in one year it expanded from three days to one week.”

The festival last September saw Ms Kelly and five other health students engage with Yalata Anangu School students to promote good kidney health.

The second festival took place between July 31 and August 4, with seven medical students and one nursing student visiting Yalata.

“It has come a long way already and I am very proud of that,” Ms Kelly said.

“It is still in early stages but I would be happy to see it continue to grow each year.

“Ultimately, I'd like for it to be a yearly event if sponsorship can allow and to expand to include the entire community, so schools and other centres around Yalata.”

Ms Kelly said she has got a lot out of the experiences.

“It has built my skills in cultural competency and communicating with a remote community.

“My confidence and leadership skills improved, as well as interacting with the community and stakeholders.

“I got to return to Yalata in February as part of my placement and when I went to the school they all recognised me and the whole community were keen to be involved this year.”

Last year’s festival saw Ms Kelly recognised as one of the state’s young achievers, an award she was not expecting.

“It was unexpected, there were people in the room who are doing phenomenal things,” she said.

“It was a great event and to recognised for what I have done was really special.”

She said that having worked in health services in countries such as Tanzania, working abroad in the future was something she was interested in, however Ms Kelly stated she had a strong desire to focus on rural health.

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